MPC New Appointments

At its first meeting of 2009, Montecito Planning Commission welcomed new commissioner Dan Eidelson and appointed former vice chair Michael Phillips as this year’s chairman. Before accepting the nomination, Phillips stipulated, “Historically, we’ve had a rotational system wherein the chairperson was in line and stood up and accepted this position. I’d like to free everyone of any obligation to vote for me as the presumptive chair, and it is a better procedure each year to take a better look at who should be in the center.” Commissioner Jack Overall lamented the fact that once appointed chair, that person usually steps down from the commission at the end of his term. “Just because someone has been chair we should not automatically assume they are going off the commission…valuable service is valuable service,” he said. Phillips was appointed chair unanimously. He is now the longest serving planning commissioner that Montecito has had.

Other appointments: Overall to first vice chair, Commissioner Sue Burrows to second vice chair, Diane Black as planning secretary, and Jessica Opland as recording secretary.

Former Chairman Bob Bierig spoke during the public comment period, and congratulated the board on continuing to serve the community of Montecito. “I can’t think of a better candidate” he said of newest commissioner Eidelson. Philips thanked him for his service and added, “We miss your presence.”

Commissioner Claire Gottsdanker tells us she is not stepping down from the Commission as she had planned late last year. “I’m here to stay,” she said.

Montecito Country Club Latest

Renovation to Montecito Country Club is expected to begin in the fall, and will take 10-12 months, according to spokesperson Erinn Lynch. MCC recently opened a new fitness studio, as a “taste of what is to come” after the Jack Nicklaus course renovation and clubhouse remodel is complete (the club will be closed during renovation).

The renovation will reduce water usage and filter storm water runoff, reduce flooding impacts on Old Coast Highway, and reduce above-grade building space by 8,000 sq ft, Lynch said.

During the club’s closure, members will have the option to defer dues or choose from other alternatives. Staff is looking into interim golf options utilizing Sandpiper and Rancho San Marcos golf courses, and they are in talks with local athletic clubs to house MCC members.

California Women’s Festival

On Sunday, March 8 the 2nd Annual California Women’s Festival will be held at UCSB’s Corwin Pavilion. Scheduled on International Women’s Day, the event will feature seminars and lectures from authors, business experts and forward thinkers, according to Montecito’s Patty DeDominic, founder of the event.

DeDominic has enlisted several local non-profits to help host the event including the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), Girls, Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara and Carpinteria, SCORE, Future Women CEOs, Women’s Economic Ventures (WEV) and the California Women’s Foundation. Sister celebrations in Kenya and Limerick, Ireland are taking place around the same time. DeDominic tells us she wanted to bring the festival to Santa Barbara to honor the special day, which the United Nations declared in 1997.

The Festivals provide an opportunity for women (and men, too) to network and share resources, especially for those interested in starting up their own business. In addition, DeDominic said, she hopes the Festival will also inspire young women, working mothers and stay-at-home moms to live to their fullest potential. The event features exhibitors discussing their businesses, and speakers lecturing about a number of topics. In addition, a film titled “The Voices of Women” will premiere.

DeDominic is a board member of NAWBO and SCORE. Three other accomplished Montecito ladies are scheduled to speak at the event: Carol Palladini, Deborah Hutchinson and Kate Adamick. Palladini will speak on a panel as a “Guru of change”; she is credited for the success of the local giving circle, The Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara, which has granted over $2 million to local non-profits in the past few years. Hutchison is a co-founder of the Santa Barbara chapter of Women In Communications; she will lead a panel on “Gutsy Gals”. The Orfalea Foundation’s Adamick will be speaking about the wonderful “sCOOL Food” programs that the Foundation has sponsored across the USA; she is a nationally recognized expert on nutrition.

For more information and to pre-register for the event, which runs from 8:30 am to 8:30 pm on Sunday March 8, visit

Tea Fire Forum Q&A: MFPD

Here is the next round of Tea Fire questions, this time asked of Montecito Fire Protection District. Following the Montecito Association’s Tea Fire Forum in January, residents were invited to submit further questions to be answered by Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, MFPD, Santa Barbara City Police and Montecito Water District. Here is an excerpt of MFPD’s response. The entirety of the questions can be read at and

Q. Do we have appropriate equipment to protect our community?

A. MFD has standardized and appropriate equipment for the needs of the Montecito Community. The District has one (1) 4x4 brush truck (Type 3) similar to those used by the Forest Service for brush responses, as well as four (4) structure protection engines (Type 1) , one (1) Urban Search and Rescue Vehicle, and one (1) Paramedic Squad. In addition, the District has 8 staff and utility vehicles. The majority of emergencies in the District call for medical aid and structure protection. Structure protection equipment can carry more tools and more water than a brush truck and the District’s call volume supports the justification for fully standardized structure protection equipment. While a brush truck may be considered more “nimble,” it does not offer the same capabilities that larger (and Nationally Standardized) Type 1 and Type 2 Engines offer. Additionally, Mutual Aid that comes in from other areas are the same Type 1 and Type 2 equipment. These engines are standardized throughout the state for structure protection.

When was Sycamore Canyon opened up? It was closed when I went there? When can Sycamore Canyon be opened again, and if not why?

The gate was opened at the bottom end by Chief Langhorne (MFD Fire Marshal) at 6:03 pm. He had to wait for law enforcement to arrive before Curtis Vincent (MFD Wildland Fire Specialist) was able to open the gate at the top to prevent cars from traveling up the road. Curtis Vincent reported on the radio at 6:20 “the gates were opened at both ends about 20 minutes ago. ”The gates were opened timely. However, what didn’t happen, and this is a lesson learned, was that the sign indicating “road closed” was still in place. This confused evacuees and made them think the road was still closed. We have worked with Cal Trans, which has advised that they will put a sign in place that allows for it to be flipped to reveal a message that indicates the road is open or closed, and locked in place. This is a CalTrans jurisdiction, and is outside the Fire District’s jurisdiction, but we have stressed our concerns to CalTrans.

Was there a delay in Command? How long did it take MFD chief to reach the command center?

An all-employee call back was initiated at 5:55 pm. The Fire Chief arrived at approximately 6:05 pm. The Fire District requires the Fire Chief to live within 20 miles of the District. There was no delay in response from District employees, and command was established timely.

In other Tea Fire news, a community concert benefitting burn victims Lance and Carla Hoffman will be held Sunday March 15 at Earl Warren Show Grounds. Representatives with local fire districts, as well as US Forest Service, California Highway Patrol, SB Police, Sheriff, Search and Rescue and the Humane Society will be on hand to talk to members of the public; the fire departments will display their fire equipment. Bands Dishwalla, The Upbeat, Dominic Balli and Still Time, in collaboration with KRUZ radio, will provide entertainment. There is no cost to attend; donations and food proceeds will benefit the Hoffman’s recovery efforts.

The ten individuals faced with misdemeanor charges for trespassing and starting a fire without a permit (the fire some believe reignited the evening of the Tea Fire) are expected to enter pleas when they are arraigned on Tuesday, March 17. Their first court appearance in front of Superior Court Judge Loberg was on Monday March 2.

Durango Songwriter Expo

by Patrik Maiani

Hit songwriter and Montecito resident Jeff Barry was featured speaker at the Fifth Annual Durango Songwriter expo that took place at the Marriott in Buellton in late February. Jeff spoke for over an hour about the secrets of great pop song writing to a group of over 200 songwriters from all over the country.

Jeff opined that “love is fashionable again in the music business,” and because that is what he does – “I write simple love songs” – he says he is “busier than ever now, working on six projects at the same time.”

Part of his talk included this good advice to aspiring songwriters: “When I write a song,” Jeff said, “the only question I ask my friends and family is, what part of the song do you not like? Because friends and family will always tell you what they like.”

The Expo is designed to give budding musicians and songwriters access to successful songwriters such as Jeff Barry; also present and accessible were Alissa Moreno (“Far From Here,” “Next Time”), Tim Johnson (“Do You Believe Me Now”), Al Johnson (“The Cowboy In Me”), and executives from major record companies (Warner, Capitol, Atlantic).

Anyone interested in attending next year or learning more about the organization, should go online: